Sunday, October 12, 2014

I Am NOT Kelli Stapleton; I am a loving parent

If I asked you a simple question - is it ok to kill your child - I'm pretty sure that I'd know your answer before you gave it.

I'm also pretty sure that along with your emphatic "No!", there'd be indignation in your voice, mixed with surprise that I'd even ask you such a question.

That's because as parents, we all know that our role is to love, protect and support our children; to keep them safe. That's in part because we know that they have to rely on us, that we are all that stands between them and the innumerable ways in which an unprotected child can be harmed in this world.

Protecting their humanity, their autonomy is one of the most basic tenets of the unwritten and unspoken contract all parents have with their children. It's unwritten and unspoken because, as the response to the question above, it's such a fundamental aspect of the relationship between parent and child, that it should never need to be said, to be pointed out.

It's so fundamental to that relationship, that any transgression of that unwritten, unspoken rule results in widespread condemnation and punishment of the parents failure.

Except, it seems, when the child is autistic. For some reason, the most basic, the most fundamental rights of a child not to be hurt by those that are charged with caring for them, becomes less unacceptable.

I want to know why that is the case. I want to know why the humanity and autonomy of autistic children is considered to be less valuable than that of typically developing children. Because, make no mistake; the moment you begin to sympathise with an attempted murderer like Kelli Stapleton, you are devaluing the life of the autistic victim. There is only one victim in this scenario and we should all be absolutely crystal clear, that the victim here is Issy.

Issy is the one who is deserving of understanding, sympathy and support. Her parent breached her most fundamental rights as a child. If you cannot see that, then the way in which you view children, all children, needs to be examined.

So, I am not Kelli Stapleton and I can say without any degree of hesitation, that I will never be Kelli Stapleton. I know this because: I understand my role as a parent; I understand and respect the inherent value of every single child; I understand that my needs are a separate issue to that of my children and that I am responsible for ensuring my needs are met, no-one else and finally, being able to kill another person is about your psychological make-up, no-one else's. I simply do not have what it would take to kill another person.

I am not Kelli Stapleton. I am a loving parent. It is not hard to do.

By Kiah Wolton-Phillips

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